birding-aus Re: Red Wattlebirds in Sydney

To: Andrew Taylor <>,
Subject: birding-aus Re: Red Wattlebirds in Sydney
From: Carol Probets <>
Date: Sun, 12 Dec 1999 18:06:56 +1100
Hi Andrew and all,

I agree with Trevor's comments regarding the increase of Red Wattlebirds in
many parts of the Sydney region, due largely to nectar-rich plantings in
gardens and streets. Here in the Upper Blue Mountains I think the situation
is slightly different. Red Wattlebirds are one of our most common birds,
but Grevillea Robyn Gordon and other large-flowered hybrids are not as easy
to grow up here and are not as often seen. Callistemon citrinus is fairly
common in gardens and is also used as massed street plantings, but because
it only flowers for a short period, it encourages these birds to move from
one area to another more as they would in natural situations.

It's difficult to know whether Red Wattlebirds have actually increased in
the Upper Blue Mountains. Reta Vellenga wrote in "Some Birds of the City of
the Blue Mountains" in 1968: "It is common where the Banksias flower, and
in any garden that provides flowers... They are nomadic following flowering
eucalypts, banksias, etc." and also noted that they bred regularly in the
area. The same could be said of them today.

I wonder how their numbers in Sydney compare to their numbers pre-European
arrival, as opposed to pre-popularity of nectar-rich "native" garden plants.

A pair have owned my garden for the past 2-3 months, feeding in turn on
Grevillea rosmarinifolia, G. gaudichaudii, Acacia elata and a couple of
Callistemon species. They aggressively chased away every other bird until
the last couple of weeks when the Callistemons came into flower. Now with
the sudden abundance of nectar the wattlebirds have eased off with their
aggression, allowing about 8 New Holland Honeyeaters to feed side by side
with them in my garden every day. So it seems that the presence of
wattlebirds doesn't necessarily preclude smaller birds, as long as there is
some seasonal fluctuation in nectar supply. Have others found this to be
the case?


Carol Probets
Katoomba NSW

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